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To Deck or Not To Deck the Halls…

December 17, 2014

Once a month, I have to think hard about what to write for the village Parish magazine – except at this time of year. It’s quite obvious, isn’t it, that in December I have to write about Christmas… (Be interesting to know how many blog posts in December do not mention Christmas!)

So it’s quite interesting to realise that Christmas hasn’t always been a big celebration. After the Reformation, the Puritans opposed celebrating Christmas (it was seen as a Catholic thing), and the Scottish parliament abolished it in 1640. Even in the States, Christmas was initially – interestingly enough! – considered “an English custom”, and it wasn’t until the early 19th century that it became widely popular again – with a vengeance…

Is this important? Probably not. Paul says that we’re free to celebrate or not celebrate special days (Rom 14:5), and as we don’t even know Jesus’ exact birthdate, whether we celebrate Christmas or not can’t really matter that much. (Do I hear a “Bah! Humbug” somewhere?)

On the other hand, Christmas reminds us of the main message of the Bible: God has not abandoned his creation. Even though we humans rebelled against him, he planned, initiated and carried out a rescue operation, which involved preparing a people (Israel) for the coming of a deliverer, the Messiah, who would die to take the punishment of the rebels. Regardless of the fact that the date is probably wrong, Christmas is the time when we celebrate the coming of that deliverer – and rightly so, since Easter would have been impossible without the birth of Jesus…

So I think the Puritans were mistaken in opposing Christmas: when celebrated for the right reason, it is a great opportunity to give thanks and praise to our Creator God for his provision of a Saviour, a deliverer, sent to rescue us from the consequences of our sin. And even though for many people it has become a largely “secular” festival as well (apparently 36% of children don’t know whose birthday we’re celebrating), the Christian connections still linger – as witnessed by the large number of people that come to the various carol, crib and Christingle services. So let’s celebrate Christmas – the merrier, the better – and let’s also make sure that at the same time we remind the world about the Saviour whose birth we celebrate!

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From → Christianity, Faith, Jesus

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